Before a generation starts there's all this talk about possibilities; there's a lot of expectations that come along with “next-gen” and we start rolling out ideas and hopes based on over-achieving CGI trailers and tech demos that never become fully realized. Well, there's one game that sort of grew into “next-gen” and it's Reloaded Productions' All Points Bulletin: Reloaded.
Originally, APB was designed for home consoles and PC, but after blowing all their money and realizing the game's memory budget far-exceeded the PS3 and 360's technical capabilities, Realtime Worlds launched All Points Bulletin as a PC only title. It died and was resurrected as APB: Reloaded; it has grown, evolved, mutated and saturated ever since.
A lot of people have dabbled in the game... started it up, played a few rounds and quit. It's an easy game to get frustrated with. While the idea of playing an MMO version of GTA's Cops 'n Robbers seems cool, the reality is that every other player is playing to win, which means it's like playing with the difficulty setting turned up to “Rage Quit or Die”.
However, beneath the constant stream of death and respawns, APB: Reloaded was one of the few games, in my opinion, that delivered a true next-generation experience during the seventh gen of gaming. The “hero” or “villain” of the game was your character – the degree to which your character lived up to either title was centered around your ability to fulfill that role with your skills, intellect, savvy and play-style. Some players become “supervillains” within a district, terrorizing and killing, while some players aim to become “supercops” in equal measure. There's a variance of personality involved with the game that creates a unique social ecosystem rarely experienced in other titles out there.
Unlike other MMOs, APB's biggest draw (next to the customization) is the fact that there are no NPCs to grind; every opponent in the game is another human player and provides a unique challenge all its own. Your tactics will never be the same thing twice over when you're dealing with a completely different kind of opponent.
But more than being just a third-person open world shooter where grind-worthy NPCs are given names, faces and personalities by real people manning and controlling them – almost similar to an early iteration of the live-action movie Gamer – the game aimed to bridge many of the conveniences of action titles with the customization of RPGs and the atmosphere and scope of an MMO.
Despite its drawbacks and shortcomings, APB: Reloaded, to this day, is still the only open-world action MMO with a heavy focus on customization. While many might point to Rockstar's GTA Online as a compentent replacement, it's such a skeleton of its own potential at this point that, sadly, Rockstar's MMO-esque take on GTA is miles behind APB as far as consistency, stability and content is concerned.